Go directly to each month’s blog:
Month 1: MLT Reflection:
Almost finished with my first month at Full Sail. The first problem that I addressed this month was the effectiveness of parental involvement towards student success. All of the research indicates that students perform at a higher level when their parents are involved, and that students actually like it when their parents play an active role in their education. I’d like to see how increasing parental involvement would affect our students and their success on the Biology State Test.
I really enjoyed my first month, my cohort group was the best! I hope we get a chance to work together in the upcoming months…
Month 2: MLR Reflection:
1. After evaluating your professional environment, what area(s) of interest have you focused on for your Action Research Capstone project?
I am interested in the effect of technology on the performance of students, and specifically how increased use of technology, brain-based learning styles and multiple learning theory affects the grades and attendance of my students.
2. Why have you chosen this direction?
I teach a state-tested subject, and my students have to pass my class and the exit exam to graduate. When they come to school, I can teach them and they pass. When they don’t come to school, they usually do not pass either my class or the test. I have found that most student who miss an excessive number of days are also missing the kind of parental support that my other more successful students are getting at home.
3. Describe your target audience. How do you anticipate them playing a role in ensuring that your results will make a difference in your environment?
This year I have 75 students first semester and 75 second semester, both semesters have to pass my class and the state test. I hope I’ll be able to poll them using a survey. Find out what are the things that I’m already doing that they like, and what could I change.
4. You should have started researching the current literature surrounding your topic, please describe any challenges/difficulties you are having with this process and/or any helpful hints/tips that you have discovered to make this process easier.
I have found many articles about integrating technology, though few that state specific types of technology. I cannot find articles about technology, bbl or mi increasing attendance.
Month Three Training and Motivational Development
1. Who are your critical friends? What role do you anticipate your critical friends will play with regard to your AR project?
My critical friends are my co-workers who look to me to set an example and to show them innovations in the classroom. I am responsible for some of the staff development at our school, especially in areas concerning technology in the classroom. My administrators are also critical friends, they have a great deal of faith in me and I don’t want to let them down. It would be very exciting if I could identify a few strategies that EVERY teacher could use to improve student performance in the classroom. They have already reviewed my videos for this month, and critiqued a few of my projects. The English teachers are planning to use Popplets when they start brainstorming for research papers, and the mythology teacher wants to use my comic book analogies in her class. My work at Full Sail is very important to the success of my school as a whole.
2. Create a calendar timeline that connects each course and your AR timeline to provide an overview that you can analyze for potential hurdles.
How do you plan to address the hurdles that you might encounter during this project?
Hurdle #1: I have to implement Cycle 1 before we leave for Christmas Break on the 19th of December. That’s the last time I will see my first semester students.
Hurdle #2: Publication will be during the hardest month of the year, May! We have State Testing, graduation, moving out of the building, etc. I will need to work ahead as much as possible during that month.
Month 4 and 5: Emergent Technologies in a Collaborative Culture and Education Design & Evaluation
Two of the busiest and hardest months, learned a great deal in both classes. Most of what I learned during these two months can be summed up by following these links:
Month 6: Digital Media and Education Applications
1. How is your AR project unfolding for you? My project is going well so far, I had a really difficult time with the literature review. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to write a formal paper. Grading my peers papers really helped me to understand the “rules” of APA…that was a valuable activity.
When will you begin Cycle implementation in your environment? I have been in Cycle 1 for a few months now, in fact, I’m just about to wrap up Cycle 1 and evaluate my data.
2. How are you planning to track your data? I gathered information from my students via a pre-survey. I will be administering a post-survey in a week, I also hope to conduct personal interviews. I have been collecting pictures, video, and work samples throughout the activity.
3. What happened in your research that you didn’t expect? Nothing, so far. Explain. I didn’t expect to change all of my students motivation to come to school. And, not surprisingly, I still have a few who are totally uninvolved in my class. I’m hoping to pin them down during the interview/post-survey and see how they felt about our class.
4. How has this month’s course (so far) helping in shaping your ARP? This month’s course has changed the way I look at my multimedia that I use in class. I’m also excited (and a little terrified) to be learning Flash this month.
Month 7 MTA:
1. I am still on target to complete my implementation activities on time. My first cycle is complete, data collected. I gathered as much documentation as possible, which was vital since my classes changed at the semester break. I have already started Cycle 2 with my new students. Potential hurdles this month mostly involve time management. If we have any snow days, I will lose teaching time, that will force me to skip some of the “fun” activities in order to complete my curricula by the end of the semester. We face this problem every year!
2. My Cycle 1 implementation took about 6 weeks. I am expecting Cycle 2 to take the same amount of time.
3. I will be finished with implementation by Month 9.
Month 8 FPE:
1. What changed in your set up from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2? In Cycle 2 I improved my instructions on the cell analogy comic strips and I improved the introduction activity so that students started the activity with a better understanding of what an analogy is. I also added two new interactive quizzes using the student response clickers. Because of the original song that I created last month, I created a new activity using the iPod Touches, where students were able to write and record their own songs for a biochemistry lesson.
2. What’s happening that you did not expect? My class for Cycle 2 is much more motivated to participate than I expected them to be in the beginning. They even offered to film a music video for one of my group mates when her class refused to participate in a project.
3. How are you tracking data differently? I am doing more video taping this month.
4. How has FPE contributed to your Action Research project? FPE has made me much more confidant about my filming techniques, and even being in front of the camera! I’m looking forward to trying different styles of video and having my students do some filming as well.
Month 9: GSM
1. Describe in detail the methods, quantitative, qualitative or a mixed approach, you used for Cycle 1 data collection. In collecting data for my Cycle 1 I used quantitative analysis, via the survey answers as well as qualitative analysis, via personal interviews. The pre and post surveys offer the students an opportunity to answer questions given the answers that I provide them, allowing me to analyze all of the data that I receive. But the personal interviews allowed students a chance to express their answers in their own words, thus giving me better insight into how my teaching methods actually make them feel about learning.
2. Describe, synthesize, and compare the data found for Cycle 1 and Cycle 2. Overall, in Cycle 1 I found students responded positively to the technology that was introduced into my lessons. This group was eager to learn, and fully embraced the novelty and freedom that we utilized in my classes. While there were a few detractors, the overwhelming percent of my Cycle 1 students reported feeling more motivated to learn when they were allowed to use technology in the classroom. Several of those students have reported back to me this semester that they were able to continue using some of the technology in their new classes this semester. My Cycle 2 data is not complete, I still have the post surveys to complete. But already I can tell that this group of students is different. These are not the Advanced Placement and Accelerated students that I had first semester. These students are mixed levels of performance, with an overwhelming number of special education students. I have more students who are repeating biology, and more students who are on “occupational” diplomas and only have to attend my class to pass. The level of motivation in this group was lower to start with, and I am really having to fight to get them interested in learning, with or without using technology. I expect the post surveys and personal interviews to reflect these findings.
3. As a master’s student, you are expected to utilize the tools given in sync sessions, readings, and other source materials and apply them to your Action Research. Describe the ways that GSM contributed to your Action Research. You are expected to find a connection between this class and your Action Research project. GSM is actually a very valuable course as it applies to my Action Research project. Some of my least motivated students are young boys who can’t find a way to fit into school, but they all love playing games! I already use some brain games and competitions during my rotations and group work, I find that all of my students respond to the element of competition and perform higher than normal. I just found some Biology board games that I plan to use in my class to review before the State Exit Exam. I would really be interested in a computer/ipod based game that used the objectives we have to cover for the state test in a quest-type system, where the student is rewarded for learning content. If students could access this material anywhere, say on their phones or ipods, it would really increase the motivation to learn in my classroom.
4. Provide feedback to other student’s blogs in the comments field. Please make sure you put a copy of all your comments in the discussion board in FSO.
Month 9: GSM continued…
Gaming and Motivation Lesson Plan:
The Wide, Wild World
Objective: Students will learn about the different land and water biomes on the planet, and the special adaptations of animals living in the environments, by playing an interactive game. The “game” aspect of this lesson will increase motivation to learn as well as giving instant feedback to students about the progress of their learning.
1) Pacing: This game will be an interactive “scavenger hunt” type of game that can be completed by groups of four within 30 minutes. Students will take turns; the person with the longest first name gets to go first.
2) Instructions: Students will have completed notes and a lecture about land and water biomes. They will use this information to “play” the game. A basic set of rules, or guidelines for play, will be laminated on a bright sheet of paper so that students can refer back to those rules when needed. A general knowledge of the biomes will be needed to complete the scavenger hunt and “win” the game.
3) Controls: Learners will manipulate the mouse on the interactive white board. They will also have to navigate the Internet while searching for biomes and animal adaptations.
4) Knowledge: Learners will have a basic knowledge of biomes when they enter the game, but they will be less sure about how the animals are adapted to survive in their environment. By navigating the Internet and examining the adaptation of animals in particular environments, students will learn how adaptations and survival of the fittest work together to shape the communities in each biome. After playing the game, students will have a solid knowledge of the biomes, the characteristics of each biome, and the adaptations that specific animals have in each biome. This will enable them to apply what they have learned in the future to a new “unknown” animal or biome.
5) Achievements: Students will accrue points based on the number of biomes and animal adaptations that they find. Students can then use these points towards homework passes, iPod time, etc. In the short term, this encourages students to get as far as they can in the scavenger hunt. Over the long term, the more biomes and adaptations that students are exposed to while on their “hunt”, the more examples of each they will have seen and the more they will remember in their future.
6) Story: The story for this game is easy! This is your world and you share it with an immense host of creatures, all of whom are specially adapted to be successful in their particular environment. What could be more fascinating than the real world and all of its natural wonder?
7) Endgame: There is no end to the game; it just goes on and on. There are millions of different animals in the world; all of them have some special adaptation that we can learn about.
8) Assessment: The assessments are built into this game; the animals and their adaptations are already known and posted on the Internet. Students must search out this information to play the game. Students must find a minimum number of biomes/adaptations to receive a grade for this activity. Students will self-regulate the game play within their group, encouraging each other as they move through the “hunt.”
9) Timing: Students must complete this game within the 30-minute timeframe. The game can be extended longer; obviously the number of animals in each biome is seemingly endless. To make the game shorter, a short list of websites could be provided where students would find specific biomes/animals.
10) Fun and Motivation: This game is fun because students are naturally curious about animals, especially animals that live in biomes other than our own. Because students must take turns to win points, they enter into a competition to find the answers quickly and move on to the next person’s turn. This game uses a Cognitive Model of Persuasion to motivate students to learn and compete. In the beginning, some students may be uncomfortable with the “hunt” and not know how to win points. But as the game progresses, they will see their fellow students successfully finding animals and biomes, and they can mimic this behavior. Through the positive reinforcement provided by their peers, as well as classroom points, students will be anxious to explore the biomes and learn about animal adaptations.
Month 10: LMO
1. Is there a connection between the data produced from your Cycles and the research reported in your Literature Review? Yes. The data gathered in Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 supports the literature in that students reported being more motivated to learn when technology was part of the lesson. Students in both cycles stated that they “remembered” better when technology was used, and they felt like learning the lesson was easier and more fun. I found that students were more likely to come to class, and more likely to show enthusiasm for the lesson where technology was involved. As for authentic learning, the state test scores for my Cycle 1 students shows a definite rise in their scores and in their QDI (the overall measurement of learning.) I will have to wait for my state test scores on my Cycle 2 kids to come back in June, but their pre-test scores on a county wide total objective test are already higher than the rest of the scores in our district. This would indicate that their state test scores will show that authentic learning took place.
2. How did your AR project turn out for you? Describe as a practitioner, how did this project improve your practice. My AR project turned out even better than I anticipated. To be honest, when I established my Action Plan seven months ago I had no idea what exactly I was going to do or how it would turn out! In my courses at Full Sail I was able to apply what I learned in my classes to my Cycles. What I discovered is that I didn’t have to change my teaching practice, just my method of delivery. I still taught the same things, even used most of the same examples. Other than a song with original music and lyrics, I didn’t really “create” anything new. But the way that I used video, music, games, etc….all of that changed. I was deliberate in my choice of technology, because I knew better what goal I was trying to accomplish. I’m a little embarrassed to say that it was easier to do than I thought it would be, and the kids ate it up! I will definitely be using all of my lessons from this year next year, and I’m planning to add to my toolbox over the summer.
3. Is a personal learning environment or an LMO something that could be part of your AR project in the future? Why or why not. I am setting up Schoology to use in my class next year. I really think that the LMO gives me a way to organize what I’ve learned at Full Sail, develop units of study that combine all of the elements that we’ve learned, AND provide it in a format that is available to students 24/7 and even in a portable app for their phones. This is what I’ve been waiting for! If this class had been earlier in the school year, I would already be using an LMO with my current students.